Tell us a bit about your background…
I grew up in Nottingham and started work at a big, above-the-line agency, Garratt Baulcombe Associates, in July 1978. Yes, I am one of the oldest copywriters in the UK (if not the world).
The agency was one of the top shops outside London with a blue chip client list including Dorma bedwear, Viyella shirts and Armitage Shanks. I was taken on as a spotty 17-year-old to look after the merchandise files for Cavendish Woodhouse and do the odd piece of copy that was thrown at me. The first piece was thrown back covered in red, but I soon improved and stopped doing the admin.
From there, I moved up to Manchester to the legendary Wilsons Advertising, where the Creative Director once fired 68 creatives in one year. Naturally, I was fired, so I headed back to Nottingham and then on to London in 1986 to work at Grey Direct, and after this Ogilvy & Mather Direct in Soho Square. Great agency, brilliant clients and a fantastic bunch of people from all around the world.
I moved back up to Nottingham to settle down and start a family, and freelanced at agencies in Nottingham, Manchester, Leicester, Sheffield, Leeds, Derby, Cheltenham, Northampton, Grimsby and Crewe (yes, there is one!).
Memorable highlights: meeting multi-award-winning CDP copywriter Tony Brignull who said my funeral expenses mailer was ‘well written’. Freelancing at Saatchi & Saatchi on Charlotte Street. Reading my copy for a Labour Party donation ad out loud to Margaret Beckett in the Houses of Parliament. Lovely lady. Very bright hair.
We moved up to Hull in 2016 and I freelanced for a while before being picked by Strawberry.
What are your first impressions of Strawberry?
Just a great bunch of people. Extremely talented, very friendly and always trying to do the very best for every client on every job. To stay young you need to spend time with young people and keep learning from them; I want to do both and keep up with all the exciting stuff that’s happening in our industry. I’m also going to try hard not to bore them with stories from the good old days of advertising… of long lunches, Letraset, Grant machines and cow gum (?).
What drew you to your job / this industry?
I always enjoyed writing and so I looked into becoming a journalist. At the time, the only college course was in Preston and I didn’t even know where that was. So I decided to try copywriting. I wrote to all the ad agencies in Nottingham but there were no openings.
It was only then that my Dad told me he went to school with a bloke who was now the Chairman at the biggest ad agency in town - Garratt Baulcombe Associates. (Thanks Dad. I think he was seeing if I’d use my initiative.) My Dad phoned him and he told me to write a critique of all the TV commercials on ITV during one peak-time ad break. I managed to cobble together some incredibly perceptive, witty and enlightened comments and remarkably, they offered me a job.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
In May 1997, me and five other blokes from my neighbourhood did the Full Monty. It was in a local church hall and was organised by the school association to raise funds for the primary school where my daughters went. The headmistress and all the staff came along and we raised over £800. The audience was mainly female and one lady said afterwards it was one of the best nights of her life (which probably says something more about her life)! Thankfully, no video footage of this event exists. And as you’re probably dying to know - no, we didn’t go all the way. But we did have tiny G-strings on at the end!